China may have take action to censor PewDiePie after the popular YouTuber joked in a video about the similarities between the country’s president and the animated honey-loving bear Winnie the Pooh.
PewDiePie said in a video Friday that he had been “banned from China” over a video he published a few days ago. The video in question is the latest episode of PewDiePie’s running series of meme commentary, where he mentioned the pro-democracy protests happening in Hong Kong.
“I got banned from China. That’s right,” PewDiePie said in his video from Friday. “If you search anything PewDiePie related on any Reddit-related forum in China, or YouTube-related videos, it will just be completely blank.”
PewDiePie’s meme commentary features references to Winnie the Pooh, the fictional bear who has become a protest symbol in China in recent years after people pointed out its strikingly similarities to China president Xi Jinping. References to Winnie the Pooh — including a recent Disney film featuring the character — have been largely censored in China, especially as the bear has become a notable figure once again during the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
PewDiePie seemed to take a great deal of pleasure in being banned in China, and said he “knew it was going to happen.” Popular DJ Zedd tweeted at PewDiePie to welcome him to the club: Zedd said he was banned in China earlier this month for liking a tweet about South Park, a show that itself is heavily censored in the country for being critical.
—Zedd (@Zedd) October 20, 2019
It’s not exactly clear what the “ban” on PewDiePie exactly means. YouTube, where PewDiePie’s content lives, has been blocked in China since 2009 behind the government’s “Great Firewall” of internet censorship. Nevertheless, PewDiePie still maintains a Chinese fanbase, many of whom use VPNs, software that cloaks the source of internet activity, to skirt China’s restricted internet.
Reddit users who are supposedly in China (Reddit is OK there) have said that online forums and social platforms have been scrubbed of posts and messages about PewDiePie. However, others have pointed out that searching for PewDiePie online, including via China’s search engine Baidu, still yield results.
—Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) October 21, 2019